WSU class rated low, but analysts offer kudos

RECRUITING RANKINGS be damned. The analysts who know the Pac-10 best say they're impressed with what Paul Wulff did in his first go-round as head man of the Cougars. WSU came in a distant 10th in the conference and a humbling 76th in national recruiting ratings, but three long-time observers of the West Coast talent wars say WSU fans have no reason to fret.

"Considering how little time the coaching staff had to put this class together, they did an exceptional job," said Brandon Huffman, Scout's West Coast analyst. "I liked their focus on players from outstanding high school programs -– in California, there's Kevin Frank of Elk Grove, Kevin Norrell from Long Beach Poly and Daniel Simons of Colony. Locally, you have guys who know a lot about winning -- Calvin Schmidtke (Lakes), Jared Karstetter (Ferris), Andrei Lintz (Meridian) and Cory Mackay (Eastlake)."

Chris Fetters, Scout's Northwest analyst, said Wulff's in-state connections helped him separate the wheat from the chaf. "This group isn't going to wow anyone on paper, but what the coaches do with those players is how the class will ultimately be judged. And it's clear Wulff felt great about the players they did scout, and I do believe he's found a few rough gems in the mix."

Testament to those sentiments came during lunch-hour Chat Room discussions with WSU recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen, who said, "We stuck to making our own evaluations off of video and talking to coaches instead of worrying about what other schools were recruiting individuals and how many stars they had by their name.

Indeed, Rasmussen told CF.C subscribers that coaches and support staff pored over an estimated 1,200 hours of video footage since mid-December. That, he said, is the only way to find the hidden gems who didn't have the chance to attend summer camps and combines.

"No one will judge Paul Wulff and his staff's recruiting prowess based on this class, because they had just six weeks to make it happen," said recruiting scribe Barry Bolton. "A lot of the guys who would have been their targets if they had a full year in place were already off the board and committed elsewhere. But they went and got guys like (Bernard) Wolfgramm, and took a guy away from Washington (Mackay). Really, they did a very nice job."

The fact the Cougs plan to redshirt most, if not all, of their prep pickups, and perhaps some of the JC players as well, also bodes well. "You're giving these athletes another year to get bigger, faster and stronger. That one extra year can effectively turn a 2-star prospect into a 4-star player," said Bolton.

USC AND UCLA WERE DUBBED the big winners in the Pac-10, coming in at NoS. 9 adn 10 nationally. In all, the conference had five teams rated in Scout's recruiting top 25. Following the Bruins and Trojans were Washington (14), Arizona State (16) and Oregon (24).

The Ducks' standing could skyrocket in the next week, however, because the nation's No. 1-ranked high school player – quarterback Terrelle Pryor out of Pennsylvania – called a Signing Day audible. Long thought to be headed either to Michigan or Ohio State, with Penn State having an outside shot, he announced he wasn't ready to commit and –- shockingly -- said he wanted to take an official visit to Oregon.

The rest of the Pac-10 rounded out this way: California No. 32, Arizona 39th, Stanford 43rd, Oregon State 61st and Washington State 76th. The Cougs were book-ended by UTEP and Vanderbilt (tied at No. 74) and Air Force at No. 77.

Idaho was rated No. 81.

Alabama was deemed the recruiting national champ, followed by Notre Dame in the No. 2 slot.

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